Archive for the ‘Social Enterprise’ Category

  • The Holstee Manifesto – Pithy, Poignant and Powerful

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    We found this manifesto through one of our absolutely most favorite blogs, BrainPickings.org, created by the irrepressibly curious, Maria Popova.

    Behind the Holstee Manifesto is a business launched in the heat of the recession in May 2009. Brothers Mike and Dave and their partner, Fabian  knew they wanted to create more than a business – the trio wanted to create a lifestyle. So the first thing Holstee’s three founders did was sit together and write down exactly what was on their minds. They wanted to create a company that breathes passion into the world everyday. It was to be a reminder of what we live for. The result became known as the Holstee Manifesto and, through all avenues of social media, the manifesto has been viewed over 80,000,000 times to date!

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    Starting in the summer of 2009, they dove head first into the world of design and production. After six months and a huge learning curve, Holstee launched its first line of Recycled Tees made of 100% recycled plastic bottles that were milled, cut and sewn within 150 miles of each other in North Carolina. Starting with this first round, 10% of all sales were lent to entrepreneurs in extreme poverty through non-profit micro-lending organizations like Kiva.org – a tradition they are proud to still embrace.

    Amazed and inspired by the community of individuals who have embraced the Holstee Manifesto as their own, the founders have created this My Life  project to capture, celebrate and share the stories that speak to the truth that life is indeed about the people you meet and the things you create with them.

  • Resources, Resources, Resources… in the “Spirit of Giving”

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    Recently, I came across – actually, I think they started following us, @savvysrswork, on Twitter – Mojo40, a blog designed to help folks 40+ get their career mojo back. That’s all well and good the the 40 year-olds, but every tip and morsel of advice at Mojo40 applies equally to those 60+. Yes, we’ve all heard the new mantra that 60 is the new 40, but it’s time to take back those years. Sixty is the “New” Sixty!

    Mojo40′s modus operandi is, “getting you unstuck in your career, wherever you are in the process, and giving you practical advice that doesn’t assume you grew up with wi-fi in your bassinet. We know that a big chunk of what’s preventing you from moving forward is the four horsemen of fear, ‘compare and despair’, lack of support and information overload. We’re here to blast through all that with:

    • Practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to create your digital profile
    • Straight talk about your lagging technical skills and tips for getting current
    • Recommendations for getting noticed and standing out from the crowd in this age of crunched attention span and the 24/7 on-switch
    • Pointers to sectors that are growing, trends that will impact business success in the future, and ways you could fit in the mix, and
    • Words of encouragement to build your courage to continue.”

    Two posts not to be missed are

    Learn From The Bees How To Do Social Enterprise and Tech Tips: 10 Free Tools for Platinum Marketing and PR

    Regarding “How the Bees Do It,” Mojo40 describes their labyrinthine process that takes social collaboration to new heights. Mojo says, “There is a sea change happening [in the culture of business today]. It’s not just social media and social networks. It is social collaboration… and bees [unlike many of their human cohorts] are social in every aspect of their life cycle, from cooperative brood-care to the overlapping of generations and the reproductive division of labor. They’ve got social brain in their DNA.” We can learn a lot from these pragmatic, industrious creatures and the highly successful life within their hives.

    Mojo’s “10 Free Tools for Platinum Marketing and PR” are smart marketing resources to help you convey your brand, get people’s attention, keep track of your networking and discover who and what is being said about you on the web.

    If the bees can do it…

     

     

     

     

  • Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Senior (Aged 50+) Entrepreneur?

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    Courtesy, Mrs J. Shanahan

    The idea for a start-up may come like a bolt out of the blue but the execution of developing the idea, monetizing it and sustaining the value proposition is a long – sometimes excruciatingly long – process. The idea of starting your own business is exhilarating, but entrepreneurs need to  focus on the reality of the challenges for their businesses to take root, thrive and fly.

    The good news is that comprehensive resources exist to help you navigate these shoals. Two excellent books aimed at the 50+ year old considering entrepreneurship are:

    The Second Chance Revolution: Becoming Your Own Boss After 50 by Edward G. Rogoff, PhD and David L. Carroll. This book is filled with nuggets of practical wisdom, including a self-assessment tool to help you decide if entrepreneurship is the right path for you. (I think this is a rather gutsy thing to do, because, if you don’t pass chapter one, you could put the book right back on the shelf without turning another page and check in to the nearest employment center.) If you do pass, Dr. Rogoff offers valuable basics to help you choose the entrepreneurial profession that’s right for you. Then, too, once you’ve successfully navigated these critical hurdles, the book provides a hands-on, step-by-step guide to what you need to do and when to launch your new business. Dr. Rogoff candidly points out that you may not like hearing about some of these steps such as: legal issues, boards of directors, insurance and taxes but, like it or not, you must tackle these head-on to succeed. The point is that this book guides you through all the hurdles and risks before you ever invest a penny in that exhilarating business idea.

    The second book, Boomerpreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Mondy and Enjoy Life, by M.B. Izard is an equally thorough and pragmatic tool. Izard also helps you determine if entrepreneurship is a good lifestyle fit for you, as well as assessing the marketplace for your business idea and how to mitigate your risks. The book has detailed action plans and is enriched by stories from Boomers who have launched new businesses. As Izard points out, there are lots of books about how to start businesses, but there are few indeed that address  the unique needs and concerns of starting a business at 50+ years of age.

    That being said, I also want to include a book aimed at entrepreneurs of any age. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki is one of the most enlightening and inspiring books I have read on this subject.

    When you have a moment, please let us know your thoughts on the opportunities, challenges, pitfalls, and exhilaration of starting your own business after turning 50.

     

  • Business and Life in a Shopping Cart

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    Courtesy of The New York Times

    Whenever I think about work and our different work options, I remember this extraordinary story “The Death of a Fulton Fish Market Fixture,” by Dan Berry, published in the NY Times in 2010.

    The “fixture,” a woman named Shopping Cart Annie worked the slippery halls of the Fulton Street Fish Market for decades.

    Courtesy PhotoBucket.com

    Established in 1822 and named after steamship inventor, Robert Fulton, the market was located near the Brooklyn Bridge along the East River waterfront Lower Manhattan until 2005, when it moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx. In its 170 year run in Lower Manhattan it was the most important fish market in the United States.

    Berry writes,  “Annie would doing anything for a buck: hustling newspapers, untaxed cigarettes, favors, those pairs of irregular socks she’d buy cheap on Canal. She’s submitting to the elements, calling out “Yoo-hoo” to the snow and the rain and her boys…. Making her rounds, running errands, holding her own in the blue banter, she was as much a part of this gruff place as the waxed fish boxes, the forklift-rocking cobblestones, and the cocktail aroma of gasoline, cigarettes and the sea.”

    “She cleaned the market’s offices and locker rooms and bathrooms. She collected the men’s ‘fish clothes’ on Friday and had them washed and ready for Monday. She ran errands for Mr. DeLuca, known as Stevie Coffee Truck…. She accepted the early morning delivery of bagels. She tried to anticipate the men’s needs — towels, bandannas, candy — and had these items available for sale. She clutched the handle of the shopping cart she used to hold wares and provide balance, wearing a baseball cap, layers of sweaters, and men’s pants, navy blue, into which she had sewn deep, leg-long pockets to keep safe her hard-earned rolls of bills.”

    No one knew Annie had another life. In the 1940′s she was a beautiful model who wanted to be an actress.  But she left those aspirations behind when she left the east coast and bicycled across the country to Alaska with a boyfriend who would later become her first husband. That marriage did not work out and she married a second time. She had four children, but domestic life was clearly not her forte. Nor was the bar or record store she managed. At some point she returned to New York City and took up her post at the fish market.

    Annie was not homeless. She had an apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. She loved her children and grandchildren and saw them frequently. She sent them money orders and used clothing whenever she could – which according to Berry was often – boxes of clothes from different charity stores and money orders frequently totaling $4000 a month. She was also  “mother” to many homeless women on the streets of Lower Manhattan. Her family kept trying to persuade her to give up her life at the market, but she never did.

    Her daughter said, “Work was her life.”

    But I think Annie might have said, “she missed the point.” It was not just any work for Annie; it was her work at the Fulton Street Fish Market. She had been beautiful, had always been loved. Her life could have been easier, but she chose another option. She had fun, made money and gave most all of it away.

    Annie died in her sleep, surrounded by friends and family. When she reached the pearly gates, she probably called out a hearty, “Yoo-Hoo!” to let all the fishmongers in the sky know she had arrived. I know, when I listen carefully, I can hear that echoing “Hoo.”  I look up and see Shopping Cart Annie looking down, as she says, “Yes, I mean Yoo! You don’t have to follow my path, but you do need to find a path of your own and follow it.”

  • Picture It: How Logos and Information Graphics Tell Your Story or Convey Your Brand in Much Less Than a Thousand Words?

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    Courtesy of: http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com

    In our digital world where vital “Tweets” can be no longer than 140 characters – not words but characters – visual information is even more critical than it is in traditional storytelling.

    Budding entrepreneurs will find some great tips and – of course – pictures in today’s “Quack” (aka Post) by Rebecca Hume at Duck Call, that zippy, smart, brandraising blog.

    Bulletin from the Duck Pond is:

    “Good infographics can illustrate ideas that might take pages to explain in writing. They function as a visual shorthand, clarifying relationships with a degree of immediacy and impact text just can’t offer. Effective graphics can be created for many types of information, but they are best suited for showing comparisons, structures, and processes.

    Figuring out what type of infographic is right for a project typically requires three steps:

    1. Know the story you want to tell.
    2. Find the information that best tells the story.
    3. Determine the form that most clearly displays that information.

    Just as with writing, information design must have a thesis statement…”

    Continue reading until you reach the other side of this duck pond because there’s lots of good data here.

    Meanwhile, should you wish to pare those words down further, perhaps even eliminate them altogether and create a successful brand logo, check out this one-page snapshot of all the elements to consider. It was “Tweeted” to you today from the SE Toolbelt, that fabulous and free open-content community resource center, created to help social entrepreneurs plan, start, manage, and grow successful social enterprises.

    Shakespeare would have been proud of your literary gambols…

    Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

  • Senior Entrepreneurs: Innovative, Foolhardy or Desperate?

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    As more and more research details that older Americans are starting businesses at a higher-than-average rate, it’s important to study the why and how of this phenomena.

    Anita Campbell, Editor and Founder of Small Business Trends, LLC, posits the question, StartUps Are Graying, But Is It a Good Financial Move?

    Campbell writes, “The face of the typical startup entrepreneur these days is a bit wrinkly, sporting some gray hair, and having the wisdom that comes with age.”

    She refers to a Business Week article by Scott Shane where he says, “according to recent research, these days those 55 and over are more likely than young people to be starting businesses.” And Shane, in turn, cites research by Dane Stangler of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that showed in every year from 1996 to 2007, Americans aged 55 to 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 to 34.

    In the name of realistic scrutiny, I just Tweeted an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Entrepreneur or Unemployed?, by Robert B. Reich, former secretary of labor, now professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley,

    Reich captures the under-reported truth behind this entrepreneurial joy, saying, too often the catalyst for this entrepreneurial surge is, “In a word, unemployment. Booted off company payrolls, millions of Americans had no choice but to try selling themselves. Another term for ‘entrepreneur’ is ‘self-employed.’”

    Reich continues:

    “According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics by an outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas, the number of self-employed Americans rose to 8.9 million last December, up from 8.7 million a year earlier. Self-employment among those 55 to 64 rose to nearly two million, 5 percent higher than in 2008. Among people over 65, the ranks of the self-employed swelled 29 percent. Many older people who had expected to retire discovered their 401(k)’s had shrunk and their homes were worthless. So they became ‘entrepreneurs,’ too.

    Maybe this is a good thing. A deep recession can be the mother of invention. These Americans are now liberated from the bureaucratic straitjackets they thought they had to wear. They can now fulfill their creative dreams and find their inner entrepreneurs. All they needed was a good kick in the pants.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    Finally, his old firm got some new projects that required George’s skills. But it didn’t hire George back. Instead, it brought him back through a “contingent workforce company,” essentially a temp agency, that’s now contracting with George to do the work. In return, the agency is taking a chunk of George’s hourly rate.

    Technically, George is his own boss. But he’s doing exactly what he did before for less money, and he gets no benefits — no health care, no 401(k) match, no sick leave, no paid vacation. Worse still, his income and hours are unpredictable even though his monthly bills still arrive with frightening regularity.

    The nation’s official rate of unemployment does not include George, nor anyone in this new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship. Yet to think of them as the innovative owners of startup businesses misses one of the most significant changes to have occurred in the American work force in many decades.”

    In addition to more realistic depictions of this frequently “involuntary entrepreneurship,” I’d like to see more research on how seniors’ are underwriting their start-ups. Are they, for example,  throwing all their savings and what crumbs might remain in their 401-K retirement accounts into these ventures? Is this, as Anita Campbell pointed out, a wise move? Young entrepreneurs have many more years to recoup those funds should the new enterprise fail.

    In that regard, it would also be valuable to see some data on Senior “Entrepreneurs” success rates. How do Seniors compete with the more tech savvy, viral-marketing-driven young entrepreneurs? Robert Jones, asks in his SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs nugget, “Are older entrepreneurs at a competitive disadvantage in a world of social media and digital communication?”

    Jeff Wuorio, makes a start at answering some of these questions with his four tips in The Older Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success, but clearly – there are a lot more questions to be answered before we revel in the “Senior Entrepreneur” phenomena.

  • Creativity and the Power of Imagination – for CEOs as Well as Wizards!

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    I was delighted to see Frank Kern’s article, “What Chief Executive Officers Really Want,” in the May 19th issue of Business Week. He discusses the radical ramifications of a new survey of 1,500 chief executives, conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value. The survey results demonstrate unequivocally that CEOs value one leadership competency – creativity – above all others.

    Kern notes that when, “CEOs identify ‘creativity’ as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future, …creativity – not operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication – something significant is afoot in the corporate world. In response to powerful external pressures and the opportunities that accompany them, CEOs are signaling a new direction. They are telling us that a world of increasing complexity will give rise to a new generation of leaders that make creativity the path forward for successful enterprises.”

    I was struck by the ways in which the survey results manifest the ideas set forth by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, in her brilliant 2008 Harvard Commencement Address in which she focused on the power of imagination.

    Speaking before that bastion of education, nurturer of past, present and future world leaders, Rowling extolled imagination not just for storytelling as one might expect from such a successful author but rather as a tool for transformative social change. She said, “Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.”

    Quoting the ancient Greek historian, biographer, essayist, Plutarch, Rowling notes, “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” She says, “We do not need magic to transform the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: the power to imagine better.”

    Invention and innovation from Hogwarts to the CEO’s boardroom and beyond. Dare we imagine transformative social change is possible???

  • “Brandraising!” How to Cultivate and Communicate Your Logo

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    Elizabeth's Garden Tulip

    To paraphrase William Blake who saw “the world in a grain of sand,” let’s examine your world as a single flower. The flower or logo representation is organic. It is the who, what, where, when and how of you.

    I love the term “Brandraising,” which I first encountered in Sarah Durham’s book “Brandraising: How to Raise Money and Increase Visibility through Smart Communications.”

    The book, while directed at organizations, is also an excellent tool for defining, developing, cultivating and communicating your own personal flower or brand.

    "Brandraising: One Organization, Many Channels," by Sarah Durham

    Think of the top, “Organizational Level,” of the triangle as your personal core components: your vision, mission, values, objectives, positioning and personality, which make you who you are. List each of your unique attributes, including your strengths and qualifications.

    Then, for the middle, “Identity Level,” be creative. What does your “visual identity” look like.  Are you a flower or a thorn? Are you people focused or technology focused? Do you see yourself in a global arena or in a local niche? Be sure the visual identity or logo you create best conveys the message of who you are. You would not, for example select a field of wildflowers for your logo if you wanted to develop weed killers or even sell weed wackers. If you want to convey high energy and cutting-edge think tank skills, a sand chair and beach umbrella would not do the trick.

    Last, but far from least, for the “Experiential Level,” you should maximize all the channels and tools available to connect with your audience and to let your audience connect with you. Communication is a two-way street. You sell yourself and your brand not just by broadcast advertising but more effectively by listening to your audience. Listen and take time to analyze their challenges so you can contribute realistic solutions designed to best meet their needs. Seize the opportunity to present yourself as the individual most qualified to resolve their problems.

    “Brandraising” takes time and nurturing, and it must be authentic. It is not easy but the long-term benefits are enormous. You will be able to do what you like to do and work with those who understand and share your vision and values. The flower that is your world will become a garden – ideally a community garden.

  • Women Launch New Businesses at Twice the Rate as Men

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    This reflects women of all ages but, even so, women entrepreneurs continue to lead  the Boomer pack.

    Not a shabby statistic to note on this auspicious, 100th anniversary of “International Women’s Day.”

    In the US, March is “Women’s History Month,” but that did not become official until 1987. Even worse, this celebration began as just a week in 1978. For a country that espouses forward thinking, it seems to have taken an inordinate amount of time to rally behind our international counterparts.

    Nonetheless, we are happy to have caught up, and would like to add our support with this great Entrepreneurial To-Do List from Brad Sugars at Entrepreneur.com. We recommend you check off each of his seven key steps before you wade into the entrepreneurial waters. One essential step we love is know your numbers and theirs!

    Last but not least, as Sugars says in the conclusion of his article: “There are few truly new things under the sun. So build on the intellectual capital of those who have gone before you.”

    A nod to women’s history, perhaps???

    Suffragist Parade in New York City

    (Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)

  • Social Capital on Display: A Norwegian Parable about Social Entrepreneurs

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    This astonishing and true story, about Jan Baalsrud a Norwegian anti-Nazi Resistance fighter in 1943, is the closest parable I have ever read about the trials and tribulations of a social entrepreneur.

    NY Times columnist, David Brooks, retells Baalsrud’s epic to capture the essence of Norway’s long-standing Olympic Gold Medal success, but Brooks also describes the story as an “interesting form of social capital on display.” He writes, “It’s a mixture of softness and hardness. Baalsrud was kept alive thanks to a serial outpouring of love and nurturing. At the same time, he and his rescuers displayed an unbelievable level of hardheaded toughness and resilience. That’s a cultural cocktail bound to produce achievement in many spheres.”

    Determined to succeed for a cause greater than ourselves – isn’t that the essence of a great social entrepreneur?

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